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House Democratic Leadership : Nov. 11, 2002

Gephardt resigns; Pelosi to become House Minority Leader

Rep. Nancy Pelosi will try to unify House Democrats with an inclusive style and a willingness to confront Republicans on the issues, her supporters say. Pelosi, 62, a Democrat from San Francisco, is on the brink of becoming the first woman to serve as a leader of either party in the House or Senate.

She is expected to move up from Democratic whip, the No. 2 job, to minority leader of the GOP-led House, replacing Rep. Dick Gephardt, D-Missouri [who resigned after the Democrats' poor showing in the election last week], when Democrats elect their new leaders this week.

Pelosi has one challenger: Rep. Harold Ford of Tennessee, who calls himself a "big, big underdog." Ford, 32, says Pelosi is too far from the center would lead the party to further defeat.

But Pelosi's allies pointed to her ability to work across partisan lines, notably in her role as the senior Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee. Pelosi has said that her experience on that committee and her service on the Appropriations Committee will prove useful as Democratic leader. Her party will need to pick up about a dozen seats in the 2004 elections to gain control of the House, Pelosi's goal.


Click for more headlines by Nancy Pelosi

Minnesota Senate election : Oct. 29, 2002

Fritz Mondale expected to run a 5-day campaign

Whoever thought Walter Mondale would get another chance to save the Democrats? Probably no one, least of all Mondale himself. But almost 20 years after the erstwhile presidential candidate's crushing defeat at the hands of Ronald Reagan, the 74-year-old Mondale is once again in the headlines. The renewed interest is borne out of tragedy: He has emerged as the Democrats' top choice to replace the late Sen. Paul Wellstone on next week's Minnesota ballot, following the plane crash that killed Wellstone, his wife and their daughter last Friday.

While Mondale won't make his decision official for another day or two (and the Democrats won't officially ask him until Wednesday), people connected with the race — as well as Mondale's friends and political advisors — concede the former Vice President is "likely" to take over Wellstone's spot. The late senator's sons have reportedly asked Mondale personally to consider filling the void left by their father's death. Other potential candidates include state Supreme Court justice Alan Page, state attorney general Mike Hatch and Skip Humphrey, former state attorney general and son of former Vice President Hubert Humphrey. (The candidate who takes Wellstone's place will face a short campaign: By Wednesday, only six days will remain before the November 5 elections.)

Exactly what kind of name recognition does Mondale carry? While its very mention still sends shivers of dread down the spines of loyal Democrats who remember his dismal showing in the 1984 presidential campaign, Mondale's fellow Minnesotans have had ample time — and opportunity — to disengage such negative connotations. After all, there are plenty of voters in Minnesota who barely remember the '84 campaign, but who know from their parents and grandparents that Mondale, like Wellstone, is a reminder of what the Democratic Party once stood for. And that may be exactly why state party leaders see him as the ideal replacement.

Mondale served in the Senate from 1964 to 1976, when he became Jimmy Carter's presidential running mate, and then Vice President. A Democrat from back when the party hewed to the left on most social issues, Mondale is likely to pick up Wellstone's liberal banner as his own. Then again, that may be pure speculation based on his prior voting record: His most recent political tour of duty was as President Clinton's ambassador to Japan from 1993 to 1996, and while Mondale has remained active on the Minnesota political landscape, his positions on current issues are not widely known.

And then there's the personality factor: While Minnesota proved a remarkably safe haven for Wellstone's unabashedly leftist ideology, many voters have said in recent days that they voted for the senator's passion rather than for his politics. Mondale, on the other hand, is not exactly known for his passion — none that has manifested itself in public, anyway — so it's not clear whether his presumed liberalism will prove as palatable to voters as his predecessor's did. Indeed, Norm Coleman and the Republicans are hoping the ideas that sounded relatively fresh coming from Wellstone will seem outdated and musty when voiced by Walter Mondale.

Source: Jessica Reaves,

Click for more headlines by Walter Mondale

Minnesota Senate election : Oct. 25, 2002

Sen. Paul Wellstone dies in plane crash

Democratic Sen. Paul Wellstone, his wife and a daughter died Friday in a small plane crash near Eveleth, Minnesota, Democratic sources said.

The sources said three staff members and two crew members also died in the crash.

The plane went down in a wooded area about seven miles east of Eveleth-Virginia Municipal Airport. Officials said bad weather was reported in the area, and the last contact with the plane was at 10:20 a.m. when the plane was about two miles from the Eveleth airport.

The plane, a twin-engine turboprop King Air manufactured by Raytheon Aircraft, took off from Flying Cloud Airport in Eden Prairie, a southwestern suburb of Minneapolis. He was scheduled to attend a funeral in the northeast, followed by a campaign stop in Duluth.

Wellstone, 58, won his Senate seat in 1990, the only challenger that year to unseat an incumbent.

The son of Russian immigrants, Wellstone was raised in Arlington, Virginia, and was a champion wrestler at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, where he earned both a bachelor's degree and a doctorate.

Wellstone was a champion of health care coverage expansion and environmental concerns, and was considered by many to be one of the Senate's most liberal members. Wellstone held a key Democratic seat in the U.S. Senate and had been criss-crossing the state in a tough re-election campaign against former St. Paul Mayor Norm Coleman.


Sniper prosecution : Oct. 25, 2002

Gubernatorial candidates' views on death penalty

A decision on who will prosecute the sniper shootings [which killed 10 people and injured 3 others in MD, VA, and DC] may not come until early next week. The dispute revolves primarily around the death penalty, which prosecutors in all jurisdictions want to pursue. The complication comes in Maryland, which has moratorium on its death penalty.

Montgomery County, Maryland, which was the site of six of the 13 attacks, ordinarily would be the starting point for what is likely to be a complex and time-consuming series of court cases. But in Virginia, site of five sniper shootings, officials were pushing to take the lead in the overall prosecution by contrasting their experience in death penalty cases with that of Maryland. Federal officials also were considering a package of charges that would allow them to bring a capital case. Attorney General John D. Ashcroft, a staunch advocate of capital punishment, has not yet made a decision on what course of action he would prefer.

Virginia has executed 86 convicts since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976. Maryland has executed three since 1976, and no executions have taken place in the state since 1998. The District of Colombia, the site of one of the sniper killings, hasn't executed anyone since 1957. Virginia prosecutors could invoke the state's terrorism law, passed after the Sept. 11 terror attacks, to seek capital punishment.

The clamor over seeking the death penalty for the sniper killings even reached Maryland's tight race for governor. Democrat Kathleen Kennedy Townsend said that seeking the death penalty in the sniper case was a "no-brainer." Republican Robert Ehrlich Jr. agreed on the appropriateness of the death penalty and said he would consider seeking the repeal of Maryland's ban on executing juveniles convicted of murder. He also said he would immediately lift the moratorium upon taking office in January. It is due to expire in April after the legislature considers a study on the fairness of the death penalty's application. Maryland Gov. Parris N. Glendening (D) said the moritorium will have expired by the time the sniper case is tried. "The moratorium won’t impact on this," he told reporters.

Source: Washington Post

Jimmy Carter wins Nobel Peace Prize : Oct. 11, 2002

Text of Carter Nobel citation

The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided to award the Nobel Peace Prize for 2002 to Jimmy Carter, for his decades of untiring effort to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts, to advance democracy and human rights, and to promote economic and social development.

During his presidency (1977-1981), Carter's mediation was a vital contribution to the Camp David Accords between Israel and Egypt, in itself a great enough achievement to qualify for the Nobel Peace Prize.

At a time when the cold war between East and West was still predominant, he placed renewed emphasis on the place of human rights in international politics.

Through his Carter Center, which celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2002, Carter has since his presidency undertaken very extensive and persevering conflict resolution on several continents.

He has shown outstanding commitment to human rights, and has served as an observer at countless elections all over the world.

He has worked hard on many fronts to fight tropical diseases and to bring about growth and progress in developing countries.

Carter has thus been active in several of the problem areas that have figured prominently in the over one hundred years of Peace Prize history.

In a situation currently marked by threats of the use of power, Carter has stood by the principles that conflicts must as far as possible be resolved through mediation and international co-operation based on international law, respect for human rights, and economic development.

Source: Announcement by the Norwegian Nobel Committee

Click for more headlines by Jimmy Carter

New Jersey Senate : Oct. 1, 2002

Torricelli out of race; Lautenberg in race

New Jersey Democrats selected former senator Frank Lautenberg tonight to take the place of Sen. Robert G. Torricelli in the November general election.

Lautenberg was selected by Gov. James E. McGreevey and the Democratic state committee after three other prospects turned them down. Lautenberg vowed to secure the Democrats' hold on a now-imperiled seat in the party's battle to save its razor-thin majority in the Senate.

"None of the energy, the vigor, the enthusiasm I had when I first started out in 1982 has diminished," Lautenberg said at a hastily called news conference outside the governor's mansion in Princeton. The three-term former senator and business executive said he was looking forward to what would be "the shortest campaign I've ever run."

It remained unclear whose name-Lautenberg's or Torricelli's-would appear on the general election ballot opposite that of Republican Doug Forrester, who entered the race as a long shot, focusing on the issue of Torricelli's ethics problems. [The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled unanimously that Lautenberg's name could appear. The US Supreme Court ruled that the NJ Court had final jurisdiction].

Forrester's campaign denounced Lautenberg as a last-ditch, last-minute choice, and released a portion of a 1999 Associated Press interview in which Lautenberg called his years in the Senate "a large personal inconvenience and effort." He was also quoted as saying of his retirement plans, "If they promised me a campaign that I wouldn't have to raise any money and a guaranteed victory, I probably would reconsider quickly."

Torricelli quit the race amid continuing controversy over his ethics and a new poll showing him running behind Forrester, a political novice. Torricelli was "severely admonished" in July by the Senate ethics committee for taking improper gifts from a now-imprisoned campaign donor, businessman David Chang.

With only 35 days to go until the election, Democratic leaders turned initially to former senator Bill Bradley to replace Torricelli, but Bradley turned them down Monday. Today, McGreevey was rejected in succession by Rep. Robert Menendez, who opted to stay in the House and work to move up the leadership ladder, and then by Rep. Frank Pallone, who had passionately argued his case, then said his wife did not want him to give up his House seat, according to several Democrats close to the process.

Source: NY Times

Al Gore on War on Terror : Sept. 23, 2002

Focus on Al Qaeda, not Iraq

I'm speaking today in an effort to recommend a specific course of action for our country, which I sincerely believe would be better for our country than the policy that is now being pursued by President Bush. Specifically, I am deeply concerned that the course of action that we are presently embarking upon with respect to Iraq has the potential to seriously damage our ability to win the war against terrorism and to weaken our ability to lead the world in this new century.

we ought to be focusing our efforts first and foremost against those who attacked us on September 11th and who have thus far gotten away with it. The vast majority of those who sponsored, planned and implemented the cold-blooded murder of more than 3,000 Americans are still at large, still neither located nor apprehended, much less punished and neutralized. I do not believe that we should allow ourselves to be distracted from this urgent task simply because it is proving to be more difficult and lengthy than was predicted.

Great nations persevere and then prevail. They do not jump from one unfinished task to another. We should remain focused on the war against terrorism.

And, I believe that we are perfectly capable of staying the course in our war against Osama bin Laden and his terrorist network, while simultaneously taking those steps necessary to build an international coalition to join us in taking on Saddam Hussein in a timely fashion.

We have other enemies, but we should focus first and foremost as our top priority on winning the war against terrorism.

Nevertheless, President Bush is telling us that America's most urgent requirement of the moment right now is not to redouble our efforts against Al Qaida, not to stabilize the nation of Afghanistan after driving his host government from power, even as Al Qaida members slip back across the border to set up in Afghanistan again.

We have a goal of regime change in Iraq; we have had for a number of years. We also have a clear goal of victory in the war against terror.

Our ability to secure multilateral cooperation in the war against terrorism can be severely damaged in the way we go about undertaking unilateral action against Iraq.

Source: Speech before the Commonwealth Club of San Francisco

Click for more headlines by Al Gore

George W. Bush : Sept. 12, 2002

Speech to the United Nations on Iraq

Twelve years ago, Iraq invaded Kuwait without provocation. And the regime's forces were poised to continue their march to seize other countries and their resources. Had Saddam Hussein been appeased instead of stopped, he would have endangered the peace and stability of the world. Yet this aggression was stopped – by the might of coalition forces, and the will of the United Nations.

To suspend hostilities and to spare himself, Iraq's dictator accepted a series of commitments. The terms were clear: to him, and to all. And he agreed to prove he is complying with every one of those obligations.

He has proven instead only his contempt for the United Nations, and for all his pledges. By breaking every pledge – by his deceptions, and by his cruelties – Saddam Hussein has made the case again himself.

As we meet today, it has been almost four years since the last U.N. inspectors set foot in Iraq – four years for the Iraqi regime to plan and build and test behind a cloak of secrecy.

We know that Saddam Hussein pursued weapons of mass murder even when inspectors were in the country. Are we to assume that he stopped when they left? The history, the logic and the facts lead to one conclusion. Saddam Hussein's regime is a grave and gathering danger. To suggest otherwise is to hope against the evidence. To assume this regime's good faith is to bet the lives of millions and the peace of the world in a reckless gamble. And this is a risk we must not take.

Delegates to the General Assembly: We have been more than patient. We have tried sanctions. We have tried the carrot of "oil for food" and the stick of coalition military strikes. But Saddam Hussein has defied all these efforts and continues to develop weapons of mass destruction. The first time we may be completely certain he has nuclear weapons is when, God forbid, he uses one. We owe it to all our citizens to do everything in our power to prevent that day from coming.

The conduct of the Iraqi regime is a threat to the authority of the United Nations, and a threat to peace. Iraq has answered a decade of U.N. demands with a decade of defiance. All the world now faces a test and the United Nations a difficult and defining moment. Are Security Council resolutions to be honored and enforced or cast aside without consequence? Will the United Nations serve the purpose of its founding or will it be irrelevant?

Source: Speech to the United Nations

Click for more headlines by Pres. Bush

Bush's Iraq Policy : Sept. 13, 2002

Bush Doctrine: Pre-emptive attacks against threats to US

The State of the Union speech is best remembered for Bush's identification of an "axis of evil" -- Iraq, Iran and North Korea -- but Bush also signaled the approach he outlined so clearly yesterday.

"Some governments will be timid in the face of terror," Bush said on Jan. 29. "Make no mistake about it: If they do not act, America will."

Bush expanded on the idea in his commencement address at West Point. There, he introduced the concept of preemption, a new doctrine under which the United States reserves the right to strike out against threats before they are completely apparent -- and before the United States itself is attacked.

The twin doctrines of containment and deterrence that guided U.S. foreign policy during the Cold War, he said, are not adequate in the aftermath of Sept. 11, "when unbalanced dictators with weapons of mass destruction can deliver those weapons on missiles or secretly provide them to terrorist allies."

Yesterday, at the United Nations, Bush identified Hussein as just that sort of tyrant. He offered no proof that Hussein has supplied terrorists with weapons of mass destruction, or even considered taking such a step. But, he contended, the possibility is enough to warrant an immediate response.

Source: Glenn Kessler, Washington Post, Page A01

Click for more headlines by Pres. Bush

Primary results from 12 states : Sept. 12, 2002

Gubernatorial and Senatorial primaries

New Hampshire Sen. Robert C. Smith (R), an idiosyncratic conservative, lost his bid for reelection yesterday to Rep. John E. Sununu (R), and former attorney general Janet Reno narrowly trailed lawyer Bill McBride in the Florida Democratic gubernatorial primary on a busy primary election day in which Florida's overhauled election system failed its first test.

Smith, who briefly quit the Republican Party in 1999 in a fit of anger, fell to the son of a former governor and White House chief of staff in the Bush administration, after a campaign rich in generational rivalry. In November, Sununu will face Gov. Jeanne Shaheen in a race Democrats see as a chance to gain a seat.

In Florida, with almost 90 percent of the precincts reporting, McBride's margin [over Reno] had shrunk to four percentage points -- 46 percent to 42 percent -- with state Sen. Daryl Jones winning about 12 percent. The winner will take on Gov. Jeb Bush, who was renominated without opposition.

Voting in Florida was marred by problems with the new high-tech touch-screen voting machines, which the Florida Legislature ordered installed after the 36-day presidential recount battle of 2000. The balky machines caused long lines, with some voters giving up in frustration. Reno was forced to wait about 20 minutes before she could cast her ballot.

Twelve states and the District of Columbia held primaries yesterday, as the two major parties neared completion of the process of selecting candidates for a November midterm election in which control of the House, Senate and statehouses are up for grabs.

In North Carolina, former Clinton White House chief of staff Erskine Bowles easily defeated eight other candidates to claim the Democratic nomination for Senate. That set up a fall campaign against Elizabeth Dole, who had many opponents but little real opposition as she easily won the GOP primary, as she campaigned to fill a vacancy created by the retirement of Sen. Jesse Helms (R).

In New York, Democrats nominated state Comptroller H. Carl McCall to oppose Gov. George Pataki (R) in November. McCall, seeking to become the Empire State's first African American governor, became the de facto nominee a week ago when his only opponent, former Clinton housing secretary Andrew Cuomo, son of former governor Mario Cuomo, dropped out.

Many of the most competitive races came in gubernatorial primaries.

In Wisconsin, state Attorney General Jim Doyle defeated Rep. Thomas Barrett and Dane County (Madison) Executive Kathleen Falk in the Democratic primary. The winner will oppose Gov. Scott McCallum (R), who had token opposition in his primary but who is among the most vulnerable governors in the nation.

Doyle, the only Democrat to win and hold state office during the 14 years that Tommy Thompson (R), now secretary of health and human services, was governor, began the race with a clear lead. Barrett, a 10-year veteran of the House with a base in Milwaukee, and Falk, who sought to appeal to female voters, closed the gap in the final weeks of the campaign. Doyle won with 38 percent to Barrett's 34 percent and Falk's 27 percent.

A sidelight in the primary was the effort of Ed Thompson, the brother of the former governor, to attract 6 percent of the total primary vote on the Libertarian Party line. That would qualify him for public financing in a November campaign in which his support could be large enough to affect the outcome.

In New Hampshire, Republican businessman Craig Benson defeated former state senator Bruce Keough, with former senator Gordon Humphrey third in the costliest campaign in state history. In the Democratic gubernatorial primary, state Sen. Mark Fernald defeated state Sen. Bev Hollingworth.

In Rhode Island, where Gov. Lincoln Almond (R) is term-limited, Donald Cacieri, retired chief executive of Cookson America, swamped businessman Jim Bennett to claim the GOP nomination. In the Democratic race, Myrth York, the party's gubernatorial nominee in 1994 and 1998, defeated state attorney general Sheldon Whitehouse, 39 percent to 38 percent, with nearly all precincts reporting.

In Arizona, where Gov. Jane Dee Hull (R) is term-limited, attorney general Janet Napolitano (D) and Rep. Matt Salmon (R) easily won their primaries.

Source: Dan Balz and David S. Broder, Washington Post, p. A1

Hillary Clinton on Presidential Prospects : Aug. 18, 2002

Not running in 2004, but 2008...?

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton has begun building a national political organization, softening her liberal image and taking a lead role in Democratic criticism of President Bush — steps toward a potential campaign to become the first woman president.

Former President Bill Clinton speaks about his wife's run for the presidency as a matter of "when," not "if," say people who have discussed it with him. Several of her associates said she is eyeing 2008 as the year to run.

Mrs. Clinton, New York Democrat, said Friday that she will not break a pledge to complete her six-year term that expires in 2006.

"I have no plans to run for president," she said in a telephone interview.

    Her actions, however, suggest the former first lady is positioning herself for a history-making race. She has:
  • Contributed nearly $600,000 to 73 Democratic candidates across the country through her political action committee and has raised even more money by headlining fund-raisers. She has helped candidates in key presidential states such as Iowa and New Hampshire.
  • Defended her husband's presidency against attacks from Republicans while sharpening her criticism of Mr. Bush.
  • Courted the party's centrist wing with a keynote speech to the centrist Democratic Leadership Council. She has sided with Republicans or conservative Democrats on welfare reform and anti-Hollywood legislation.

Mrs. Clinton has miles to go to override criticism by Republicans that she is a liberal Democrat whose major policy initiative — the 1993 universal health care plan — was a political and policy disaster. She also is viewed as beholden to the left wing of the Democratic Party on issues such as abortion, foreign policy and homosexual rights.

Several advisers and friends close to Mrs. Clinton, speaking on the condition of anonymity, say she wants a Democrat to win the White House in 2004. If President Bush wins re-election, however, she would almost certainly be a candidate four years later, they said.

"I don't know who those people are or where they're getting their information from because they've never had a conversation with me they can quote," Mrs. Clinton said. She flatly ruled out even a vice-presidential bid in 2004.

Her husband was at a small dinner party in February, in Perth, Australia, when someone asked if Mrs. Clinton would run for president. One person described the former president's unhesitating reply, "Not in 2004," as reflexive, confident and leaving the clear impression that his wife had already decided to try in 2008.

It is impossible to characterize Mrs. Clinton's prospects with any certainty; the sources close to her could be trying to inflate her standing among Democrats or may be caught up in the Clinton-for-president speculation buzzing about the party's grass roots.

The possibility of a historic race is fueling the interest, Mrs. Clinton said.

"I think that's part of the speculation and wishful thinking, because we all hope a woman will run in our lifetime," she said.

Source: Ron Fournier, Associated Press, in Washington Times
Click for more headlines by Hillary Clinton or Bill Clinton

Andrew Cuomo withdraws : Sept. 4, 2002

Endorses McCall for NY Governor

Andrew M. Cuomo, trailing in the polls a week before the Democratic gubernatorial primary, dropped out of the race today and endorsed his rival, state Comptroller H. Carl McCall.

"We did good work, we accomplished great things," Mr. Cuomo told supporters at a hastily called news conference in Manhattan this afternoon.

Rejecting a strategy of last-minute attack ads in hope of overcoming dismal poll numbers, Mr. Cuomo said, "I will not close a gap in the election by opening one in the body politic."

Mr. McCall, at his own news conference about two hours later, said Mr. Cuomo's decision had been his own and that he had promised his rival nothing in exchange for clearing the field for him. "Nothing was offered to anyone," Mr. McCall said.

But Mr. McCall made it clear that he welcomed Mr. Cuomo's decision. "Andrew and his family have worked hard, they've advanced good ideas, and they have fought for the principles of the Democratic Party," he said. "I appreciate his support and his confidence."

Mr. McCall said that he had tried to reach Mr. Cuomo by telephone today to discuss what role Mr. Cuomo might play in Mr. McCall's campaign, but that they had not yet made direct contact.

Both campaigns spent the last two days discussing a deal for the withdrawal of Mr. Cuomo. Senior advisers to Mr. Cuomo initiated the talks on Monday, proposing various terms that would ensure Mr. Cuomo's bowing out. But in the end, the McCall camp made no concessions, according to Mr. McCall, his aides and Democratic Party officials.

While in his speech Mr. Cuomo hailed what he called his "full reform agenda," he also allowed that he might have offered "too many good ideas" and that his message had got lost in the clutter.

"When you try to communicate too many ideas, sometimes you wind up communicating nothing," he said, with former President Bill Clinton and other Democratic officials by his side.

People close to the talks said that Mr. Cuomo had wanted his withdrawal to be presented publicly as a deal brokered by Mr. Clinton, whose administration Mr. Cuomo had served in as housing secretary. But Mr. McCall said, "President Clinton didn't broker an agreement" and had promised to work for him in the remainder of his campaign against Mr. Pataki.

Source: Shaila K. Dewan, NY Times
Click for more headlines by Andrew Cuomo or Carl McCall or George Pataki

Nevada considers decriminalizing marijuana : Aug. 9, 2002

Navada decriminalization: Drug czar opposes, some cops support

Nevada's largest police organization ousted its president Friday and reversed his endorsement of a statewide initiative that would let adults legally possess up to 3 ounces of marijuana. "NCOPS does not endorse Question 9," it said, referring to the measure's number on the Nov. 5 ballot, "nor will it support any measure for the decriminalization or legalization of marijuana."

Billy Rogers, head of Nevadans for Responsible Law Enforcement, the main political group supporting the measure, insisted that the NCOPS board had unanimously supported Question 9 before the endorsement was made public. "Its a priority issue," said Andy Anderson, the ousted president of NCOPS. "We just feel we could use our resources better. Why waste our time with marijuana arrests?"

The position drew national media attention and howls from police and prosecutors. The endorsement also raised the profile of a campaign that has drawn recent visits to Nevada from federal Drug Enforcement Agency Director Asa Hutchinson and federal "drug czar" John P. Walters to underscore the Bush administration's opposition to the measure.

Two statewide polls in recent weeks have found voters evenly split on the proposal, with about 10 percent undecided.

Until last year, Nevada had the strictest marijuana law in the nation - making it a felony to possess a single marijuana cigarette. Now, possessing an ounce or less is a misdemeanor.

The initiative would allow marijuana to be sold only in state-licensed and taxed smoke shops. Possession by minors would still be a crime, public use would be banned and driving under the influence would be illegal. Sales by private individuals would be prohibited.

The measure would have to pass twice - in November and again in 2004 - to become law.

Source: Ken Ritter, Associated Press, in Las Vegas Sun
Click for headlines by Drug Czar Asa Huthinson

Traficant expelled from Congress : July 24, 2002

Only 5th member ever expelled

Congressman James Traficant, flamboyant and defiant to the end, faced an historic expulsion vote Wednesday in the House for using his office to extort bribes and kickbacks.

But the convicted Ohio Democrat, known for his colorful clothing, wild hair and arm-waving theatrical rants against government prosecutors and tax collectors, vowed to fight ejection from Congress with every fiber of his being.

"It's not time for me to go quietly in the night; I'm still a lion," he said on the eve of a vote that would make him only the fifth sitting House member in the nation's history to be kicked out of Congress, and only the second since the Civil War.

The House allocated Traficant 30 minutes to make his case on the House floor before his congressional colleagues voted on his fate. He had requested a lot more time – eight hours.

Traficant, 61, has insisted on his innocence since a federal jury in Cleveland convicted him in April on racketeering, bribery and tax evasion charges. Portraying himself as the victim of a government vendetta, he has claimed repeatedly that witnesses in his trial lied under threats of reprisal from the Justice Department, FBI and Internal Revenue Service.

Traficant's conviction followed a nine-week trial on 10 counts of racketeering, bribery and tax evasion. Although he is not a lawyer, he defended himself in court against accusations that he took kickbacks from employees, encouraged the destruction of evidence, solicited bribes and other gifts from businessmen and filed false income tax returns.

Federal prosecutors have recommended Traficant serve at least 7¼ years in prison on the criminal charges. Sentencing is scheduled for Tuesday.

After the conviction, a House ethics panel found him guilty of ethical violations and recommended unanimously that he be expelled from Congress.

Despite his Democrat label, Traficant has few allies in his party. For years, he has angered fellow Democrats by voting with Republicans on many bills and helping to elect Republican Dennis Hastert as speaker. His district was cut up in the Ohio reapportionment, and he was the only House member this year without a committee assignment.

The last time the House expelled a member was in 1980, when Rep. Michael Myers, D-Pa., was kicked out for accepting bribes from FBI agents posing as Arab sheiks trying to change immigration law.

In its 213-year history, the House has expelled just four members, including three who were charged with treason during the Civil War. It takes two-thirds of the voting members of the 435-member House to approve expulsion.

Source: Jesse J. Holland, Associated Press, in Washington Post
Click for headlines by James Traficant

Al Gore criticizes Administration : June 30, 2002

Gore bashes Bush on Enron & Osama

Al Gore criticized the Bush administration's handling of the economy and the war on terrorism, specifically citing the administration's failure to capture al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. It was the first time Gore has publicly criticized President Bush on the war. "They haven't gotten Osama bin Laden. They've refused to allow enough international troops to enter Afghanistan to make sure this country doesn't slide back under the control of these warlords," Gore said. "President Bush has allowed his political team to use this war as a political wedge issue to score political points and divide this nation," he added.

He also chided members of the Bush administration for not always putting the American people first. "This year we have seen regulators appointed to head the FCC (Federal Communications Commission), the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, all of the other agencies that are not really looking after the people of this country," Gore said. "They are looking after the people that they're supposed to be reining in." In the wake of recent profit misstatements by major corporations -- including the collapse of Enron and the guilty verdict against its accounting firm, Andersen -- Gore said he thought Bush should do more to help restore Americans' economic confidence. "I believe that a president of the United States facing this kind of situation ought to be restoring confidence in our economy and ought to be instructing the people in charge of these agencies to lay down the law," Gore said.

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Gore will decide on 2004 run early next year : June 30, 2002

To hell with the polls; would pour out my heart

Al Gore conceded today that his 2000 presidential campaign was too heavily influenced by polls, consultants and tactical maneuvering, telling key supporters here that, if he runs in 2004, he will "let it rip" and "let the chips fall where they may."

"If I had it to do over again, I'd just let it rip," Gore told a private gathering of many of his most significant donors and fundraisers, according to an aide who relayed the remarks to reporters. "To hell with the polls, tactics and all the rest. I would have poured out my heart and my vision for America's future." Gore's comments won a standing ovation from those supporters, who were near-universal in their encouragement for him to run again. His remarks came after both his wife, Tipper, and eldest daughter, Karenna Gore Schiff, emphatically said they would like to see him challenge President Bush in 2004.

Gore later told reporters that he will decide "sometime after the first of the year" -- the first time he has offered a timetable for his own planning. He signaled that, based on the lessons learned from 2000, he would try to run a different kind of campaign. "I would spend more time speaking from the heart on a few occasions each week, addressing the major challenges of the country in-depth, and spend a lot less time going to media events and making tactical moves," Gore said.

Gore's 2000 campaign was top-heavy with consultants and marred by internal strife and strategy disagreements. But Gore also suffered from self-inflicted wounds, as he struggled to fend off criticism that he was constantly trying to reinvent himself. His comments about speaking from the heart could resurrect questions of who the real Gore is, but his supporters said he could run in 2004 as a more relaxed and more liberated candidate than he could as a sitting vice president.

Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) is holding his own retreat this weekend with donors and supporters, which features several former Clinton administration policy advisers, as he prepares for a possible 2004 campaign. House Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt (D-Mo.) and Democratic Sens. Joseph I. Lieberman (Conn.) and John F. Kerry (Mass.) have also been preparing for possible campaigns. One top Democrat said some former Gore donors are reluctant to sign up again because they believe the party's best chance in 2004 lies in finding a fresh face to run against Bush. But another strategist conceded that the [current fundraiser’s] guest list was a sign that the core of Gore's fundraising team has remained loyal. "The fact that [several of] his biggest fundraisers are still with him is a good sign," the strategist said.

Source: Dan Balz, Washington, Page A4
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George Bush on Middle East : June 24, 2002

Calls for new Palestinian leadership

I call on the Palestinian people to elect new leaders, leaders not compromised by terror. I call upon them to build a practicing democracy, based on tolerance and liberty. If the Palestinian people actively pursue these goals, America and the world will actively support their efforts.

And when the Palestinian people have new leaders, new institutions and new security arrangements with their neighbors, the US will support the creation of a Palestinian state whose borders and certain aspects of its sovereignty will be provisional until resolved as part of a final settlement in the Middle East.

Today, the elected Palestinian legislature has no authority, and power is concentrated in the hands of an unaccountable few. A Palestinian state can only serve its citizens with a new constitution which separates the powers of government. The Palestinian parliament should have the full authority of a legislative body. Local officials and government ministers need authority of their own and the independence to govern effectively.

Today, Palestinian authorities are encouraging, not opposing, terrorism. This is unacceptable. And the US will not support the establishment of a Palestinian state until its leaders engage in a sustained fight against the terrorists and dismantle their infrastructure. This will require an externally supervised effort to rebuild and reform the Palestinian security services.

Source: Rose Garden Speech, “New Palestinian Leadership”
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Robert Reich on Gay Marriage : June 22, 2002

Supports gay civil marriage, not just civil union

In a move that is attracting national attention, gubernatorial candidate Robert Reich has announced that he supports the right of gays and lesbians to marry. The announcement, first reported earlier this week in Bay Windows and InNewsweekly, two Boston gay newspapers, sets the former US labor secretary apart from his major-party opponents. The four other Democratic candidates support Vermont-style civil unions, which provide most of the legal benefits of marriage but are not recognized by other states.
Source: Boston Globe
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Robert Reich on Gay Marriage : June 22, 2002

Supports GLBT rights as civil rights

    Top Reasons Why Robert Reich Is The Best Candidate For The GLBT Community

  1. Bob supports gay civil marriage and has an active GLBT Steering Committee advising him on issues facing our community.

  2. Bob opposes the “Super-DOMA” bill in the legislature, which would prohibit the legal recognition of same-sex relationships in Massachusetts.

  3. Bob will fight for legislation to extend domestic partnership benefits to state and municipal workers.

  4. Bob supports the Safe Schools program and protections for GLBT youth.

  5. Bob will fight to protect funding for HIV/AIDS education and prevention.
Source: Campaign web site,, "GLBT Committee"
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George Bush on War on Terror : June 16, 2002

First Strike policy against terrorist states

President Bush has directed his top national security aides to make a doctrine of pre-emptive action against states and terrorist groups trying to develop weapons of mass destruction into the foundation of a new national security strategy. Iraq is clearly first on the target list for such action, and already the Central Intelligence Agency and the Defense Department have stepped up efforts to unseat Saddam Hussein in a last effort to avoid the necessity of a full-scale invasion. Yet the policy, a significant move away from the chesslike military strategies of the cold war, deals more broadly with a range of options to prevent nations from obtaining large-scale weapons or sponsoring terrorism. Bush emphasized pre-emption [in recent speeches], saying, "If we wait for threats to fully materialize, we will have waited too long."

The president's aides say the new policy rewrites the fundamental strategies that guided American thinking during the cold war. The first of those strategies was containment — the policy of living with the nuclear power of the Soviet Union but preventing its expansion. The second was deterrence, which assumed that America's defenses could be arrayed to assure a devastating response and therefore keep the enemy from acting. Both strategies fit within the United Nations charter, which gives a nation a right to defend itself when attacked but offers little room for countries to define when they felt threatened.

The process of [discussing the new strategy with] America's allies has only just begun, and it will be difficult because [foeign leaders] have often warned against unilateralism. Bush's new policy could amount to ultimate unilateralism, because it reserves the right to determine what constitutes a threat to American security and to act even if that threat is not judged imminent.

Source: David Sanger, New York Times
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George Bush on War on Terror : June 11, 2002

Call for New Cabinet Department of Homeland Security

I recognize the best way to defend our homeland is to go on the offense, and we're going to. But we've got to do a pretty good job on defense, as well. And that's why I've called for the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, a new Cabinet agency. And I'd like to explain why I did so.

Right now, there are over 100 agencies responsible for a part of homeland security -- 100 different entities at the federal level.... I don't like the idea of calling 100 different agencies; I like to call one, and say, here is the strategy, and what are you doing about it? And if you're not doing something about it, I expect you to. And if you don't, I'm going to find somebody else that will do something about it.

    Within this Cabinet department, we're going to have four basic functions.
  • One are borders. We've got to do a better job of protecting the borders of the United States. We need to know who's coming in and why they're not going out. We need to know we need to know what they're here for and how long they say they're going to be here for. And that requires a management plan and focus and technology. And I'll be honest with you, we've got a long way to go to make sure that what they call the INS is working the way we want it to work. But we've got the strategy, we know what we need to do.
  • Secondly, we've got to support our first responders, the fine police and fire and emergency medical squads not only here in Kansas City, but all across the country. We need to help them with their strategy of responding if need be.
  • Thirdly, we've got to develop detection capability to be able to detect weapons of mass destruction -- chemical, nuclear, biological weapons -- and if they ever were to be used, figure out what to do about it. We've got to have a strategy to deal with bioterrorism, for example, here in America.
  • And finally, we must have the capacity to analyze all sources of intelligence so that we can imagine the worst and plan for it; so we can figure out how best to deal with the new threats that face America. And those are the four major categories.
Source: Speech at Oak Park High School, Kansas City, Missouri
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George Bush on FBI & Water Security : June 11, 2002

Protect critical infrastructure by reforming FBI & trusting locals

I wasn't surprised that the FBI wasn't fully prepared for the war against terror, because, after all, the FBI's major job up until September the 11th was to make cases against people who committed crimes already in America -- white-collar crimes, spies. They really weren't focused on preventing attacks. And so we needed to change the culture.

...Now, that's not to say they're still not going to have an important law enforcement function, they're not going to do what they used to do in the past. They are, of course. But the attitude in America has got to change, because we've got a new problem we're faced with. It's an enemy that -- who is very tough, and smart, and determined.

...The other thing we are doing a better job of is having the CIA, which collects information overseas, coordinate with the FBI. That's part of how you restructure agencies in order to better protect America. It used to be they didn't talk very much. There was kind of a structural problem. You just need to know we've changed that. We've changed it.

...There's nothing like having face-to-face discussions with agency heads, to determine how we're doing, and whether or not people are talking to each other. And [the heads of the CIA and FBI are meeting daily]. And that's important. It's important that we link up the two.

And this new capacity at the [proposed] Department of Homeland Security is going to be also important, where we'll have people whose job it is to analyze everything we see, and assess everything we here. And it's to make sure it's all in one area, so we can get a clearer picture of what may or may not be happening to America.

As well, it is important for us to trust the local folks, to do a better job at recognizing in Washington we don't have all the smarts, that we want to work with the mayors, people at the local level. We want to hear from the police and fire. We just came from one of the water treatment plants here in the area, and we're pleased to see how secure the plant is. Christie Todd was telling me how we're going to eventually have grant money for water treatment facilities all around the country, to encourage them to make sure that there's a full assessment of the plant, to address any vulnerability that may exist. This one didn't appear very vulnerable, I want you to know. So I was looking. I was pleased to take a big gulp of water when I arrived here.

Source: Speech at Oak Park High School, Kansas City, Missouri
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South Dakota political shuffle : June 5, 2002

Rep. Thune takes on Sen. Johnson; Gov. Janklow runs for House

The Republican primary for South Dakota's open at-large House seat, once billed as a battle of political titans, ended with a whimper Tuesday night as Republican Gov. William J. Janklow easily defeated former Sen. Larry Pressler (1979-97) and three other candidates.

Janklow will now be the favorite to succeed three-term Republican Rep. John Thune, who left the seat open to challenge Johnson in what will be one of the nation's most-watched Senate races.

Attorney Stephanie Herseth won the Democratic House nomination easily, beating Rick Weiland, who lost the 1996 House race to Thune.

The race between Janklow, 61, and Herseth, 31, will be a contrast in styles. Herseth - granddaughter of former South Dakota Gov. Ralph E. Herseth (1959-61) - is trying to persuade voters that she is the young, dynamic candidate.

But Janklow's long popularity as governor - an office he held from 1979 to 1987 and from 1995 to present - and the overall Republican leanings of South Dakota voters give him a strong edge going into the general election campaign.

Source: Mary Clare Jalonick, CQ Politics in Washington Post
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George Bush on Fidel Castro : May 20, 2002

Keep US economic embargo against Cuba

President Bush, in a speech harshly critical of Fidel Castro, said that he would not lift a trade embargo against Cuba without substantial movement toward democracy there.

“Nearly a half century ago, Cuba's independence and the hopes for democracy were hijacked by a brutal dictator who cares everything for his own power and nada for the Cuban people.... In an era where markets have brought prosperity and empowerment, this leader clings to a bankrupt ideology that has brought Cuba's workers and farmers and families nothing — nothing — but isolation and misery.”

Bush's remarks, made on the 100th anniversary of Cuban independence, placed him in direct opposition to the recommendations made by former President Jimmy Carter, who called for an easing of the economic sanctions last week when he became the most prominent American politician to visit the island since Mr. Castro took power in 1959.

The president's pronouncements were also at odds with Democrats and a number of Republicans in Congress, who consider an approach that Castro has survived for more than four decades to be outdated and ineffective. But Bush said that he would only consider lifting the embargo, as well as travel restrictions to the island, if Castro met a broad variety of democratic and economic changes.

"I want you to know that I know what trade means with a tyrant," Bush said. "It means that we will underwrite tyranny, and we cannot let that happen."

This morning at the White House, the president said that Mr. Castro — Bush never once referred to him as "President Castro" — had "turned a beautiful island into a prison."

Bush laid out a long list of conditions that Cuba must meet before his administration would consider a change of policy. Specifically, the president demanded that Castro release all political prisoners and give opposition political candidates in Cuba's National Assembly elections in 2003 the freedom to organize, assemble and speak.

"For 43 years, every election in Cuba has been a fraud and a sham," Bush said. "Mr. Castro, once, just once, show that you're unafraid of a real election." Bush also demanded that Castro allow international human rights organizations to monitor those elections.

Source: Elisabeth Bumiller, NY Times
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Jimmy Carter visits Castro in Havana : May 12, 2002

End US economic embargo against Cuba

Former President Jimmy Carter arrived Sunday in Cuba -- the first former or current U.S. chief executive to set foot on the Caribbean island since Calvin Coolidge in 1928.

Carter plans to stay in Cuba through Friday. He is expected to meet with Cuban President Fidel Castro at least twice, including an official dinner Sunday night. No American president has visited since Castro came to power in 1959.

The five-day visit, during which Carter also will meet opposition leaders, comes at a tenuous period in U.S.-Cuban relations, with tough talk on human rights and biological weapons mixed with discussions about increased trade and ties between U.S. businesses and Cuba.

Carter has been an outspoken advocate of ending the U.S. economic embargo against Cuba, a position that is contrary to the Bush administration's stance toward the communist nation. The Bush administration said the embargo will not be lifted until Cuba shows progress toward democratic elections and improves its record on human rights.

Despite its disagreement with Carter's viewpoint, the White House gave Carter permission to embark on his mission. The State Department debriefed Carter last week.

Since leaving the White House in 1981, Carter has dedicated himself to safeguarding human rights, resolving conflicts and enhancing democracies worldwide. Meanwhile, U.S. administrations have vilified Castro as an insular, authoritarian ruler who preserves his power at the expense of his people.

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Ashcroft on Gun Rights : May 12, 2002

Second Amendment implies individual right to gun ownership

Using a footnote in a set of Supreme Court briefs, Attorney General John Ashcroft announced a radical shift last week in six decades of government policy toward the rights of Americans to own guns. Burying the change in fine print cannot disguise the ominous implications for law enforcement or Mr. Ashcroft's betrayal of his public duty.

The footnote declares that, contrary to longstanding and bipartisan interpretation of the Second Amendment, the Constitution "broadly protects the rights of individuals" to own firearms. This view and the accompanying legal standard Mr. Ashcroft has suggested — equating gun ownership with core free speech rights — could make it extremely difficult for the government to regulate firearms, as it has done for decades.

That position comports with Mr. Ashcroft's long-held personal opinion, which he expressed a year ago in a letter to his close allies at the National Rifle Association. But it is a position at odds with both history and the Constitution's text. As the Supreme Court correctly concluded in a 1939 decision that remains the key legal precedent on the subject, the Second Amendment protects only those rights that have "some reasonable relationship to the preservation of efficiency of a well-regulated militia." By not viewing the amendment as a basic, individual right, this decision left room for broad gun ownership regulation. The footnote is also at odds with Mr. Ashcroft's pledge at his confirmation hearing that his personal ideology would not drive Justice Department legal policies.

Source: NY Times, Op-Ed, Page B06
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Gov. Parris Glendening (D, MD), Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend (D, MD), and Gov. George Ryan (R, IL) : May 9, 2002

Maryland joins Illinois in death penalty moratorium

Maryland Gov. Parris Glendening imposed a moratorium on executions Thursday until the state finishes a study on whether there is racial bias in the use of the death penalty. Glendening, a Democrat, said he envisions the stay remaining in place "until the study is reviewed and acted upon by the legislature, which I expect to take about one year."

Glendening stopped the execution of Wesley Eugene Baker, who was scheduled to die by lethal injection some time next week, and said he would stay any other executions that come before him. Baker was convicted of a 1991 murder. Nine of the 13 people on death row in Maryland are African-American, including Baker. During his tenure, Glendening allowed the state to go forward with two executions, but he commuted a third. The Baker case was the fourth such case to come before him.

Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, a Democratic candidate for governor, called for a death penalty moratorium last week and met with Glendening on the issue. "Townsend supports the death penalty but believes if you are going to impose the death penalty you must be sure it is as fair as possible," a campaign spokeswoman said. "We support this moratorium because it gives us an opportunity to clarify that we are being as fair and just as we can be and we must be."

Illinois Gov. George Ryan declared the nation's first moratorium in 2000. The Associated Press reported that last month, a commission appointed by Ryan recommended 85 reforms to reduce the possibility of wrongful convictions. Some of the reforms included cutting the number of crimes eligible for the death penalty and videotaping police interrogations.

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Alex Sanders, South Carolina Democrat for US Senate : April 21, 2002

World needs more generosity, unselfishness, & responsibility

We need to be nicer to each other and take more responsibility. We need more civilized behavior from our citizens, more loyalty from our co-workers, more respect from our children, more respect for our children, and more courtesy from our husbands and wives. Life is under no obligation to give us what we expect, and expecting the world to treat you fairly because you are a good person is like expecting a bull not to charge you because you are a vegetarian. The best idea is the idea of unselfishness.
Source: Campaign web site,, “Wit and Wisdom”
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Ron Kirk, Texas Democrat for US Senate : April 3, 2002

Kirk will be strong voice for undocumented workers

Kirk received the endorsement of the United Farm Workers union. Union officials said they see him as one who will champion their issues: higher wages and a safer workplace for farmhands, legal protections for undocumented immigrants, and better housing and services in the Rio Grande Valley. Kirk said he would be a voice for undocumented workers, and that he supports a bill pending in Congress that would grant amnesty to hundreds of thousands of immigrants living illegally in the U.S.
Source: T.A. Badger, Associated Press
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Erskine Bowles, North Carolina Democrat for US Senate : March 31, 2002

Running on experience & commitment to service

I believe my experience in business, community service and government gives me something valuable to offer. I believe my commitment to rising above partisan politics and bringing people together to accomplish common goals can help make a difference. My father taught me the importance of service and of committing yourself to something larger than yourself. It is in that spirit that I have decided to become a candidate.
Source: Campaign web site, "A Message"
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Andrew Cuomo,Democrat for New York Governor : March 24, 2002

End “government for sale” with public financing of campaigns

Cuomo demanded changes to end "government for sale." He proposed that donors be allowed to give a candidate no more than $2,000 per race. He called for public financing of campaigns and capping spending per candidate at $2.5 million for primaries & $7 million for the general election. He said an entity with a state contract should be banned from giving money to the official who awarded the contract, & an entity giving a donation would be barred from receiving a contract from that official.
Source: Ruth Bashinsky/Joel Siegel, Daily News
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Campaign Finance Reform : March 21, 2002

McCain-Feingold bill passes Senate; Bush will sign

The U.S. Senate approved the most significant changes to campaign finance laws in a generation, and President Bush said he will sign it into law. The bill, known as McCain-Feingold in the Senate and Shays-Meehan in the House, is scheduled to go into effect on November 6, the day after this year's elections -- unless a promised court challenge by critics succeeds. Changing how political campaigns are financed will "help to restore the public's faith in government," said Sen. John McCain.

Opponents of the bill, led by Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), argue that banning soft money contributions is tantamount to violating the First Amendment's right to free speech. McConnell said the bill unconstitutionally regulates political speech and shifts the flow of campaign cash from political parties to outside groups that operate under even less scrutiny. "This is an attempt to regulate the political speech of some in order to enhance the political speech of others," he said. "There won't be a penny less spent on issues and campaigns in America after this bill becomes law."

The measure bans the unregulated donations to national political parties by individuals, corporations and unions known as "soft money" -- funds that are supposed to be used for party-building activities, but often help an individual candidate. State and local parties will still be able to accept "soft money," but the size of such donations and how they are used will be regulated. The bill also doubles the limits on so-called "hard money," or direct contributions to individual candidates. The bill also would ban unions and corporations from using "soft money" to broadcast what are known as "issues ads" within 60 days of a general election and 30 days of a primary. Issue ads are often little more than veiled pitches for or against a particular candidate. While these organizations can finance some ads through political action committees, they must disclose the names of their donors

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Sen. Fred Thompson (R, TN) Announces Retirement : March 12, 2002

Lamar Alexander and three Representatives announce candidacies

When former Tennessee Gov. Lamar Alexander dropped out of the 2000 presidential contest, he said it was his last race. Yesterday, he said he has changed his mind and announced his candidacy for the U.S. Senate to succeed Fred Thompson.

"This is an unexpected course of action for me," Alexander said during a news conference at Legislative Plaza yesterday.

Alexander, 61, and U.S. Rep. Ed Bryant, 53, of Henderson are running in the Aug. 1 Republican primary after Thompson surprised the state's political establishment with his announcement that he is retiring after one full term.

Source: Bonna de la Cruz, The Tennesseean
Click for more headlines by Lamar Alexander (R), Rep. Ed Bryant (R), Rep. Bob Clement (D), and Rep. Harold Ford (D).

Mitt Romney ready to announce for MA Governor : March 14, 2002

Abortion position has changed over the years

Just look at Romney on abortion: pro-life before he took on kennedy in 1994; pro-choice during that race; he renounced the pro-choice label while he was in more conservative Utah; surely he'll reach for it again if he runs for governor here. Heck, that would be an Olympic event: The quadruple flip-flop.
Source: Wayne Woodlief, Op-Ed, Boson Herald, p. 27
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War on Terror : March 2, 2002

Democrats question Administration's handling of War on Terror

Senate Majority Leader Thomas A. Daschle (D-S.D.) yesterday rejected Republican criticism that he had unpatriotically challenged President Bush over the war on terrorism and said Democrats will stand their ground.

"The Congress has a constitutional responsibility to ask questions," he said. "We are not a rubber stamp to this president or to anybody else. We must do what the Constitution and what our best judgment requires, and we'll continue to do this."

Daschle called GOP reaction to his remarks Thursday "nothing short of hysterical" and challenged them to show where he had criticized the president. On Thursday, Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) accused Daschle of trying to "divide the country," while House Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) said the senator's comments had been "disgusting."

"What I said is, you can't overstate the success we have made so far," Daschle said at a morning news conference. "I don't know how much more unequivocal you can be than that. What I did say, though, is that there ought to be some criteria by which we judge future success and we ought to lay out those criteria and we ought to be asking tough questions."

One of those criteria cited by Daschle on Thursday was whether the war on terrorism could ever be judged successful as long as terrorist leader Osama bin Laden and Taliban leader Mohammad Omar remain at large.

The questions from Daschle and other Democrats are mild by historical standards of dissent on foreign policy, but the reaction from Bush's party underscored the view that Republicans believe the president is politically unassailable on the war and will attempt to punish Democrats who challenge him.

Daschle's response yesterday was echoed by other Democrats, who warned Republicans not to attempt to stifle legitimate debate over U.S. policy. "This is going to be a perpetual war," said Sen. Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.). "The idea that you can never raise a question about expenditures is not, I think, an idea that's going to fly with the American people."

Sen. Robert G. Torricelli (D-N.J.), who is running for reelection, said Americans respect the right of lawmakers to raise questions. "I think the [GOP's] vociferous reaction may silence some Democrats for a time, but people in the country have their own misgivings and are going to want a discussion of the alternatives," he said.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.), in an interview Thursday, made clear he has many questions for the administration -- and some frustration over the way the Bush team is ignoring Congress as it charts its policy. He said the administration has "no clear message" about the war at this point. "There is nobody I know you can go to in this administration [who can say] this is the plan," he said.

Source: Dan Balz and Helen Dewar, Washington Post, p. A13
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George W. Bush: ANWR : Feb. 24, 2002

Drill for oil in Alaska, for national security

President Bush has renewed his campaign to open an Arctic wildlife refuge to oil exploration, contending yesterday that drilling is essential to national security and job creation.

In his weekly radio address, Bush said that the plan is vital to his goal of making the United States less dependent on foreign energy sources. He said he also wants to promote energy efficiency, develop wind and solar power, build fuel-efficient vehicles, and combat pollution.

His bid to overturn the 1980 ban on drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge remains the most contested element of his energy plan. It will probably face a filibuster from senators who believe that the drilling would have serious environmental consequences.

Debate on an energy bill was expected to begin in the Senate this week. The House version, passed in the summer, permits drilling in a 1.5 million-acre section of the refuge.

Bush contends that the drilling can move ahead with minimal environmental harm, and he says there is little choice. ''Conservation technology and renewables are important, yet they alone cannot solve our energy problems,'' Bush said in the radio address. ''We must also reduce America's dependence on foreign sources of oil by encouraging safe and clean exploration at home.''

Other elements of the Bush proposal would upgrade electric power lines, modernize other energy delivery systems, and develop fuel-efficient technologies, such as cars powered with hydrogen. ''America is already using more energy than our domestic resources can provide, and, unless we act to increase our energy independence, our reliance on foreign sources of energy will only increase,'' Bush said. He cited projections that US oil consumption will increase by about a third over the next 20 years, while the demand for electricity rises by about 45 percent.

The government estimates that at least 5.7 billion barrels of oil and possibly as many as 16 billion barrels may be recoverable from the Arctic refuge. Environmentalists say the refuge contains no more than 3.2 billion barrels, not enough to dramatically ease the country's reliance on imports. They assert that drilling there would endanger polar bears, musk oxen, 130 species of migrating birds, and thousands of caribou.

Source: Lawrence L. Knutson, Associated Press, in Boston Globe, p. A15
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George W. Bush: Nuclear Waste : Feb. 16, 2002

Approves Nevada site to dump all nuclear waste

President Bush yesterday authorized construction of a huge, centralized site for nuclear waste storage 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas, saying that the long-debated project was essential to the future of the nuclear power industry and the nation's security.

Despite the strong objections of Nevada officials, state business leaders and environmentalists, Bush affirmed Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham's recent finding that the proposed project beneath Yucca Mountain is "scientifically sound and suitable," and would enhance protection against terrorist attacks by consolidating nuclear waste in an underground desert tomb.

"Proceeding with the repository program is necessary to protect public safety, health and the nation's security," Bush said in a letter notifying Congress of his decision.

Bush carried Nevada in 2000 after pledging that he would oppose designation of Yucca Mountain as a temporary or permanent repository for nuclear waste "unless it has been deemed scientifically safe." Bush and Abraham yesterday stressed they had acted only after being convinced that the project was scientifically sound.

Source: Eric Pianin, Washington Post, p. A1
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Nevada Gov. Kenny Guinn: Nuclear Waste : Feb. 16, 2002

On decision to dump nuclear waste at Yucca Mt: "That stinks"

Nevada Gov. Kenny Guinn (R) vowed to oppose the [Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dump which President Bush authorized today], which means a final decision will be left to Congress, where a majority of lawmakers strongly favor disposing of states' nuclear waste in the remote Nevada site. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission will have to issue a license for the site, and opponents are challenging the project in court.

While the waste disposal issue has been debated for more than 20 years, this is the first time a president has formally settled on a site to bury a vast portion of the country's nuclear waste - as much as 77,000 tons of it.

Currently, more than 40,000 tons of spent nuclear material is being stored in 131 above-ground facilities in 39 states, and 161 million Americans live within 75 miles of these sites.

About 2,000 tons of nuclear waste is generated every year. Administration officials contend that one central site would meet "compelling national interests" by consolidating nuclear waste to enhance protection against terrorists. The waste would be stored in metal cannisters several hundred feet underground.

Underscoring the political sensitivity of the issue, the president's chief political adviser notified Guinn last month that the Energy Department would recommend the designation of Yucca as the nuclear site. Guinn replied: "That stinks," according to the governor's spokesman.

"I am outraged, as are the citizens of Nevada, that this decision would go forward with so many unanswered questions," Guinn said.

Source: Eric Pianin, Washington Post, p. A1
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Energy Secy Spencer Abraham: Nuclear Waste : Feb. 16, 2002

Nevada nuclear waste dump is safe, despite critics' concerns

Abraham yesterday stressed the Bush Administration acted [to approve the Yucca Mountain site for the nation's sole nuclear waste dump] only after being convinced that the project was scientifically sound.

"Irrespective of any other consideration, I could not and would not recommend the Yucca Mountain site without having first determined that a repository will bring together the location, natural barriers and design elements necessary to protect the health and safety of the public . . . now and long into the future," Abraham said.

Despite those assurances, Nevada officials and environmentalists and their allies on Capitol Hill contend there is overwhelming scientific evidence that the government cannot store radioactive waste beneath Yucca Mountain without groundwater being contaminated by long-term leaching.

Critics also say the Energy Department has virtually ignored the risks of transporting the deadly waste through 43 states, within one mile of 50 million Americans, providing another target for terrorists.

Source: Eric Pianin, Washington Post, p. A1
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Nevada Sen. Harry Reid: Nuclear Waste : Feb. 16, 2002

Nevada nuclear dump betrays Nevadans and endangers Americans

The remote site 1,000 feet beneath Yucca Mountain was the sole candidate of Congress and the Energy Department for the past 20 years [for a nuclear waste dump]. Some Nevada residents believed they were singled out because they lacked the political clout of other states, such as Texas and Washington, that were previously considered for the waste site.

Senate Majority Whip Harry Reid (D-Nev.) declared that "President Bush has betrayed our trust and endangered the American public," and Senate Majority Leader Thomas A. Daschle (D-S.D.) described the decision as "premature and irresponsible."

The General Accounting Office has raised numerous questions about the scientific underpinnings of the project. Last month the federal government's Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board reported that "the technical basis for the DOE's repository performance estimates is weak to moderate at this time."

Recently, a former head of the project said U.S. officials have known since 1995 that the site's geologic features would not adequately protect groundwater and air from potential radioactivity, as the original congressional mandate calls for.

Source: Eric Pianin, Washington Post, p. A1
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George W. Bush: Drug War : Feb. 13, 2002

$19B for more enforcement to reduce drug use by 25%

President Bush today unveiled a $19 billion national antidrug strategy that gives renewed impetus to law enforcement at home and abroad and calls for "compassionate coercion" to get addicts into treatment. Asserting that illegal drugs kill as many as 20,000 Americans a year and cost the health care system almost $15 billion, Bush set a goal of reducing drug use nationally by 25 percent over the next five years."Drugs attack everything that is best about this country, and I intend to do something about them," Bush said.

The sharpest increase in the budget over last year was a 10 percent rise in financing for interdiction, now at $2.3 billion. That effort to stop drugs at their source, or while they are in transit, includes hundreds of millions for eradication efforts and police work in South America as well as more money for the Coast Guard and border patrols.

Source: Christopher Marquis, New York Times
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George W. Bush: Drug War : Feb. 13, 2002

Compassionate coercion to get addicts into treatment

[Bush's newly announced] national drug strategy calls for a 6 percent increase in spending on treatment, allocating $1.6 billion over the next five years. Money will be targeted for the most vulnerable populations, including pregnant women, the homeless, people with H.I.V. and teenagers, the president said.

The president's strategy calls for the creation of a "new climate of compassionate coercion" to persuade drug users to seek treatment. It seeks to enlist the help of family members, friends and employers, as well as the police and groups tied to religion, to break through addicts' denial.

Bush acknowledged that the best way to affect supply is to reduce demand. His budget calls for spending $644 million on school and community programs and $180 million on a media campaign intended to reach the young.

"If we want to usher in a period of personal responsibility, if we want a new culture that changes from `If it feels good, do it' to one that says we're responsible for our decisions, it begins with moms and dads being responsible parents, by telling their children they love them, on a daily basis," he said. "And if you love somebody, you'll also tell them not to use drugs."

Source: Christopher Marquis, New York Times
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Dick Armey on AmeriCorps : Feb 5, 2002

Opposes Freedom Corps: teaching charity is "obnoxious"

President Bush's plan to expand the AmeriCorps program might hit some roadblocks on Capitol Hill, the Republican Majority Leader in the House said Monday.

"The idea that government can teach charity to America rings very hollow with me," Rep. Dick Armey, R-Texas, told reporters. "I do not understand why anybody would embrace AmeriCorps. I consider just the structural framework of AmeriCorps as obnoxious."

Bush said he's boosting AmeriCorps funding as part of a national strategy to bolster public service in ways that enhance homeland security and not necessarily to promote volunteerism by voucher.

"I think the country needs to provide opportunities for people to serve, expanding AmeriCorps, expanding Senior Corps -- it's a good way for Americans to fight evil," Bush said

In his State of the Union address last week, the president proposed spending millions of dollars to expand the number of AmeriCorps volunteers from 50,000 to 75,000. The program, geared to young adults, pays a stipend in return for involvement in programs such as Habitat for Humanity, the American Red Cross, and the Boys and Girls Clubs of America.

AmeriCorps is to fit into a larger service organization called USA Freedom Corps, which also would include a Senior Corps and a Citizen Corps to move volunteers into areas of service that enhance security through work with police, fire, emergency rescue and other agencies. It also would boost funding for the Peace Corps and dispatch a majority of the new volunteers to Islamic nations.

Many conservative Republicans have opposed AmeriCorps for years.

"When the Democrats got a Democratic president, [AmeriCorps] was one of the first things they rammed through Congress," Armey said. "It was not a good idea then and it's not a good idea now."

"My own view is that America is a nation of great charity," he said. "We give best when we give what's in our own hearts. We give least well when we give at the direction and supervision of the government."

A senior administration official said the White House "respects" Armey's views, but it will work with moderate Republicans and Democrats to secure funding for AmeriCorps.

"This is not the first time we've disagreed with Dick Armey," the official said. "It won't be the last."

Source: / AllPolitics
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George W. Bush: State of the Union : Jan 29, 2002

Calls for 4,000 hours of national service for every citizen

For too long our culture has said, “If it feels good, do it.” Now America is embracing a new ethic and a new creed: “Let’s roll.” We want to be a nation that serves goals larger than self. My call tonight is for every American to commit at least two years—4,000 hours—over the rest of your lifetime to the service of your neighbors and your nation.

To sustain and extend the best that has emerged in America, I invite you to join the new USA Freedom Corps. The Freedom Corps will focus on three areas of need: responding in case of crisis at home, rebuilding our communities, and extending American compassion throughout the world.

And America needs citizens to extend the compassion of our country to every part of the world, so we will renew the promise of the Peace Corps, double its volunteers over the next five years and ask it to join a new effort to encourage development and education and opportunity in the Islamic world.

Source: State of the Union speech
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State of the Union : Jan 29, 2002

Homeland security focus: bioterror; airports; intelligence

America is no longer protected by vast oceans. We are protected from attack only by vigorous action abroad and increased vigilance at home.

My budget nearly doubles funding for a sustained strategy of homeland security, focused on four key areas: bioterrorism, emergency response, airport and border security, and improved intelligence.

We will develop vaccines to fight anthrax and other deadly diseases. We’ll increase funding to help states and communities train and equip our heroic police and firefighters.

We will improve intelligence collection and sharing, expand patrols at our borders, strengthen the security of air travel, and use technology to track the arrivals and departures of visitors to the US.

Homeland security will make America not only stronger but in many ways better. Knowledge gained from bioterrorism research will improve public health. Stronger police and fire departments will mean safer neighborhoods. Stricter border enforcement will help combat illegal drugs.

Source: State of the Union speech
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State of the Union : Jan 29, 2002

Largest increase in defense $ in two decades: never too high

Our first priority must always be the security of our nation, and that will be reflected in the budget I send to Congress. My budget supports 3 great goals for America: We will win this war, we will protect our homeland, and we will revive our economy.

It costs a lot to fight this war. We have spent more than a billion dollars a month—over $30 million a day—and we must be prepared for future operations. Afghanistan proved that expensive precision weapons defeat the enemy and spare innocent lives, and we need more of them. We need to replace aging aircraft and make our military more agile to put our troops anywhere in the world quickly and safely.

Our men and women in uniform deserve the best weapons, the best equipment and the best training and they also deserve another pay raise. My budget includes the largest increase in defense spending in two decades, because while the price of freedom and security is high, it is never too high. Whatever it costs to defend our country, we will pay.

Source: State of the Union speech
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State of the Union : Jan 29, 2002

Fight freedom’s fight against Axis of Evil

    Our goal is to prevent regimes that sponsor terror from threatening America or our friends and allies with weapons of mass destruction. Some of these regimes have been pretty quiet since September 11, but we know their true nature.
  • North Korea is a regime arming with missiles and weapons of mass destruction, while starving its citizens.
  • Iran aggressively pursues these weapons and exports terror, while an unelected few repress the Iranian people’s hope for freedom.
  • Iraq continues to flaunt its hostility toward America and to support terror. The Iraqi regime has plotted to develop anthrax and nerve gas and nuclear weapons for over a decade.
States like these, and their terrorist allies, constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world. The price of indifference would be catastrophic. We can’t stop short. History has called America and our allies to action, and it is both our responsibility and our privilege to fight freedom’s fight.
Source: State of the Union speech
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Joe Lieberman on War & Peace : Jan. 14, 2002

Iraq is next

The Bush administration must target Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in its war against terrorism, Sen. Joseph Lieberman said Monday. It was one of a series of steps he said are needed to undermine a "theological iron curtain" being put up in the Muslim world by fanatics.

Lieberman, who recently returned from a trip with other lawmakers to Afghanistan and neighboring countries in Central Asia, said during a speech at Georgetown University that the United States must assist Muslim nations.

"While we drain the swamp, we must also seed the garden," said Lieberman, the 2000 Democratic vice presidential candidate.

Lieberman said the U.S. goal of trying to contain Hussein since the Gulf War has failed and more concrete steps are needed. He hinted broadly at the need for military action.

"Our clear, unequivocal goal should be liberating the Iraqi people and the world from Saddam's tyranny as we should have done in 1991," the Connecticut Democrat said.

He said that could include more support for opposition groups within Iraq as well as exercising power "outside" that nation. The United States, he added, ought to "be prepared to act alone" toward that goal.

Asked about Lieberman's comments during an interview Monday on CNN, Secretary of State Colin Powell said the senator's "well-informed" comments would be taken into consideration.

"We have no illusions about the nature of the Iraqi regime. It's a state sponsor of terrorism. We've said so," Powell said. "We have constantly under review what might be done to bring about regime change."

However, the secretary said President Bush "has made no decisions as to how he'll move forward with respect to Iraq or other sources of terrorism in the world."

On another front, Lieberman called on Bush to send a "high-level envoy" to the India-Pakistan region to help the two countries resolve a dispute over Kashmir, a territory claimed by both.

Powell himself will be stopping in Pakistan and India this coming week. He said Monday the Bush administration is pushing both sides to pull back troops from their shared border "so that we have less tension at that border, less opportunity for some incident to spark a conflict between the two sides."

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Rudy Giuliani: Man of the Year : Dec. 23, 2001

Named Time's Man of the Year over bin Laden

Brash, outspoken, indefatigable Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, whose composure and compassion rallied New York and the nation after the Sept. 11 attacks, was named Time Magazine's Person of the Year on Sunday.

``This was about Sept. 11 and about how in the immediate aftermath of the attacks in those crucial hours, one person took emotional charge in a way that was extraordinary,'' Time Managing Editor Jim Kelly told Reuters.

``He led by emotion, not just by words and actions, and in an emotional year like this one, he deserved to be person of the year,'' Kelly said.

Giuliani, who is in the final days of his eight years as mayor of the United States' largest city, is Time Magazine's 76th Person of the Year. ``The person who most affected the news or our lives, for good or for ill, this year,'' said Time founder Henry Luce when he instituted in 1925 what has now become a national talking point each year.

Giuliani said he was honored to receive the award, adding that it reflected the efforts of all New Yorkers, including the firefighters, police and emergency workers who helped see the city through an attack that killed thousands of people and destroyed the World Trade Center's twin towers.

``I was very humbled and very moved by the selection by Time Magazine,'' Giuliani said. ``I believe that I wasn't selected. I believe the people of New York were selected as the people of the year.''

President Bush, Time's 75th Person of the Year, made it to the short list again, along with America's most wanted man, Osama Bin Laden.

As for bin Laden, the Saudi-born dissident accused by the United States of planning the Sept. 11 attacks that killed more than 3,200 people in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania, Time said he ``is too small a man to get the credit for all that has happened in America in the autumn of 2001.''

Already credited with making New York City livable again after years of crime and neglect, Giuliani has become an international symbol of courage and leadership since Sept. 11.

From the first moments after two hijacked planes slammed into the World Trade Center's twin towers, Giuliani has been ubiquitous: racing to the scene of the destruction and nearly getting buried when the towers collapsed; calmly giving news conference after news conference; leading a succession of world leaders to ``ground zero'' to help solidify the international coalition against bin Laden and his al Qaeda organization; and attending more than 200 funerals and wakes of those who died in the attacks.

Source: Reuters in NY Times
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George W. Bush on Education : Dec 18, 2001

Further progress on educational standards and testing

The elementary and secondary education bill expected to pass Congress today is less a revolutionary change in direction than an evolutionary move down a path that education has taken for more than a decade. The legislation's emphasis on testing and accountability is part of a trend that dates to the first Bush administration, a movement that has taken hold around the country, pushed along by federal nudges. Not surprisingly, states like Texas under Governor George W. Bush have been at the forefront.

Education specialists say that the new law's success will hinge on the federal government's ability to inform state and local education leaders about the law and to mesh it with an array of accountability measures. Both tasks have proved problematic in previous federal efforts.

The philosophy behind the legislation runs back to President George H.W. Bush, who convened a summit of state and federal education leaders in 1989. From that meeting came the first talk of working toward national standards and testing and the first Bush proposals. But he was unable to win congressional approval for his ideas.

Four years later, President Clinton also traveled the accountability road, pushing a pair of new laws through the Congress. One, dubbed Goals 2000, gave money to the states to set up their own standards and to align systems for measuring whether they were being met. The second, part of the 1994 renewal of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act in 1994, mandated that the academic progress of students helped by Title I - the part of the law that seeks to aid disadvantaged children - would be measured against those state standards.

One crucial component was missing: There were no consequences for failing to meet the new, tougher standards. The current bill requires that states not only establish 12-year schedules for students to meet their standards, but also that they show adequate yearly progress toward reaching them. Ongoing failure would result in increasing consequences for the schools.

The last wave of federal efforts to improve schools foundered because states were slow to set standards, and in many cases failed to align what testing programs they had to match those standards.

[However, only] 15 states had accountability measures when Clinton came into office. Now virtually all states already have standards and some form of testing, but those state programs vary greatly. The ability of the Department of Education to meld those efforts with the new law will be a measure of the new law's success.

Source: Robert Schlesinger, Boston Globe, p. A1
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George W. Bush on Israel & Palestine : Dec 3, 2001

Press Arafat to crack down; don't press Sharon to hold fire

As Israel rained missiles near Yasser Arafat's headquarters in Gaza, the White House pressed the Palestinian leader to crack down on the terrorists whose suicide bombings killed at least 25 Israelis over the weekend.

With U.S. support for Arafat as the Palestinians' unquestioned leader beginning to fade, a senior U.S. official told The Associated Press time could be running out for Arafat to clamp down on Hamas and other terrorist groups.

And White House spokesman Ari Fleischer gave credence to the impression that President Bush, in a meeting Sunday with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, did not attempt to stop the Israelis from striking back.

"Obviously, Israel has a right to defend herself and the president understands that clearly," Fleischer said.

The senior official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, acknowledged it was virtually impossible for Bush to "tell Israel to hold its fire while we're chasing al-Qaida around Afghanistan."

Bush "has believed for quite a period of time that Yasser Arafat is capable of doing much more than he has ever done and now the burden is on him even heavier to show it," Fleischer said.

"What's new and different is the severity of the violence that rocked Israel over the weekend and the outrage that world feels about the murder of all the innocents in Israel. It's important that Chairman Arafat move beyond where he has been before-- to take concrete actions, to show that this is not the way of the future and it should not be the way of the present," the spokesman said.

Bush, confronting new uncertainty about a fragile anti-terror coalition that relies on Arab support, canceled his only scheduled appearance before reporters today.

Earlier, Sharon held emergency consultations with key Cabinet ministers in Jerusalem to decide on an Israeli response to the suicide bombings in Jerusalem and Haifa.

"This is a real opportunity for Chairman Arafat to show in actions, not words, that he stands for peace, and that he will take action that is enduring and meaningful against the terrorists and those who sponsored the terrorist attacks that took place in Israel," Fleischer said.

Bush on Sunday denounced the weekend attacks as "horrific acts of murder" and conferred with Sharon for about an hour at the White House. Sharon then flew home for a Cabinet meeting today.

Sharon told Bush that Israel would respond to terror as best it could, a senior Israeli official said.

There was no indication Bush had sought to persuade the Israeli leader to hold back. Arafat "must do everything in his power to find those who murdered innocent Israelis and bring them to justice," the president said.

White House officials said Bush expects Arafat to break up Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, groups that the United States believes trains and supports suicide attackers.

"You've got to go after the organizations who are conducting these kinds of acts of terror," Secretary of State Colin Powell said Sunday on CBS' "Face the Nation." He said that means "putting them in real jails where they are not walking free several days later." The rhetoric, a dramatic shift in tone, was meant to intensify pressure on Arafat, White House officials said.

With 25 people killed and nearly 200 wounded by three suicide bombers, Arafat ordered dozens of Islamic militants arrested and promised harsh action. But Israel was deeply skeptical, with hard-liners calling for removal of the Palestinian leader.

George Mitchell, the former Senate majority leader whose commission devised recommendations for peacemaking that would follow a cease-fire, said today it is unlikely that the process would be better without Arafat. "I think there would be internal conflict and the successor could most likely be out of the factions that are creating the problems," he said on CBS' "The Early Show."

Mitchell said the latest violence could be the trigger for serious steps toward peace because "things are getting so bad that both sides will recognize that life is unbearable. ... I believe they will turn a corner because things are so bad and they can't continue with this conflict. Peace is the only alternative."

What was to have been a White House pep talk to Sharon to get started on tentative peace moves was transformed suddenly into an hourlong emergency session that shifted the burden to Arafat to prove he can end Palestinian attacks.

Much of what Bush and other U.S. officials said was familiar. But the tone was unusually tough. "There can be no excuse for failure to take immediate and thorough action against the perpetrators of these vile acts," Powell said.

Only a few days earlier, Powell had raised Arab hopes for new U.S. pressure on Sharon. He had described Israel's hold on the West Bank and Gaza as an occupation and said building homes for Israeli Jews there was crippling hopes for peace.

Powell also has repeatedly registered sympathy for Palestinian "frustrations."

But after speaking with Arafat by telephone he said he had made "absolutely clear that these despicable and cowardly actions must be brought to an end through immediate, comprehensive and sustained action by the Palestinian Authority."

Source: Barry Schweid, Associated Press, in L.A. Times
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